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Martinez v. Stackley

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

February 28, 2018

GARY J. MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
SEAN STACKLEY, Secretary of the Navy; JAMIE K. KALOWSKY, CMDR, Captain Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR DISMISSAL AND SUMMARY JUDGMENT OF DEFENDANTS SEAN STACKLEY, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY AND JAMIE K. KALOWSKY (ECF NO. 35)

          Helen Gillmor, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Gary J. Martinez has filed a form Complaint against the Secretary of the United States Navy and Captain Jamie Kalowsky, Commander of the Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard. The form Complaint alleges federal claims of employment discrimination based on Plaintiff's disability, race, national origin, and age. Plaintiff also asserts that one of his former supervisors violated his rights under the Privacy Act.

         Plaintiff attached nearly 500 pages of documents to the form Complaint, including hundreds of pages of hand written statements by Plaintiff and Plaintiff's wife.

         Plaintiff's filings are difficult to decipher and contain unintelligible pleadings. The Court construes Plaintiff's pleadings liberally and, viewing the record in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, concludes that Plaintiff is not entitled to relief.

         The Defendants' Motion for Dismissal and Summary Judgment (ECF No. 35) is GRANTED.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed the form Complaint along with more than five hundred pages of attachments. (ECF No. 1).

         On the same date, he filed an Application To Proceed In District Court Without Prepaying Fees and Costs. (ECF No. 3).

         On August 31, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued an ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF FEES, DIRECTING SERVICE, AND DIRECTING THE CLERK'S OFFICE TO SEND PLAINTIFF A REQUEST FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL FORM. (ECF No. 9).

         On September 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed a REQUEST FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL UNDER THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964; 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1)(B). (ECF No. 11).

         On September 15, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL. (ECF No. 14).

         On October 5, 2016, Plaintiff filed an Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendation. (ECF No. 15).

         On October 14, 2016, the Court issued an ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION, AS MODIFIED. (ECF No. 16).

         On May 24, 2017, Defendants filed a MOTION FOR DISMISSAL AND SUMMARY JUDGMENT OF DEFENDANTS SEAN STACKLEY, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY AND JAMIE K. KALOWSKY and a Concise Statement of Facts in Support of their Motion. (ECF Nos. 35, 36).

         On June 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed pleadings requesting an extension of time to respond to Defendants' Motion. (ECF Nos. 38, 39).

         On June 20, 2017, the Court issued a Minute Order granting Plaintiff's request for an extension of time to file his Opposition. (ECF No. 40).

         On July 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed a pleading entitled, “OPPOSITION TO THE MOTION FOR DISMISSAL AND SUMMARY JUDGEMENT [sic] OF DEFENDANTS SEAN STACKLEY, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY AND JAMIE K. KALOWSKY.” (ECF No. 41).

         On the same date, Plaintiff filed a pleading entitled, “CONCISE STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S OPPOSITION TO THE MOTION FOR DISMISSAL AND SUMMARY JUDGEMENT [sic] OF DEFENDANTS SEAN STACKLEY, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY AND JAMIE K. KALOWSKY.” (ECF No. 42).

         On August 10, 2017, Defendants filed a REPLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR DISMISSAL AND SUMMARY JUDGMENT OF DEFENDANTS SEAN STACKLEY, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, AND JAMIE K. KALOWSKY. (ECF No. 43).

         On November 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a pleading entitled, “NO REPLY IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF MOTION AND ANSWER TO DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR DISMISSAL FILED ON AUGUST 10, 2017 ALSO REQUEST FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO REPLY TO COURT DECISION OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT.” (ECF No. 44).

         On December 22, 2017, the Court issued a Minute Order holding the scheduling deadlines in abeyance. (ECF No. 46).

         On January 29, 2018, the Court issued a Minute Order granting Defendants' Motion for Dismissal and Summary Judgment and vacating the trial date and all deadlines. (ECF No. 48). This written order sets forth the basis for the summary decision issued in the January 29, 2018 Minute Order.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Gary J. Martinez alleges that he is a sixty-one year old man, of Hispanic and American Indian heritage. Plaintiff's voluminous and difficult to decipher pleadings attempt to allege federal claims of employment discrimination and a violation of the Privacy Act.

         Construing the pleadings liberally and in favor of the Plaintiff, the record sets forth the following facts:

         August 2014 Employment Agreement

         On August 14, 2014, Plaintiff Martinez signed an Employment Agreement with the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility to work in the position of “painter helper.” (Employment Agreement dated August 14, 2014, attached as Ex. 3 to Def.'s Concise Statement of Facts (“CSF”), ECF No. 36-7). A painter helper is responsible for assisting painters at the Shipyard by suppling tools and work materials, preparing surfaces for painting, and performing sandblasting. (Painter Helper Job Description, attached as Ex. 2 to Def.'s CSF, ECF No. 36-6).

         Plaintiff worked in Shop 71 at the Shipyard which is responsible for blasting old paint off of ships and submarines and for repainting them. (Declaration of Chad Candido, General Foreman at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, (“Candido Decl.”) at ¶ 2, ECF No. 36-1). About 85% of the Shop's work is done inside submarines and the remaining 15% of work is done off-hull, where items are removed from ships and are blasted and painted. (Id. at ¶¶ 1-3).

         Plaintiff's employment as a painter helper was contingent on Plaintiff's ability to work in confined spaces. (Employment Agreement dated August 14, 2014, attached as Ex. 3 to Def.'s CSF, ECF No. 36-7). Plaintiff's Employment Agreement included fifteen separate numbered paragraphs explaining the requirements of the position, which Plaintiff was required to review and initial. (Id.) One of the paragraphs explained the nature of Plaintiff's work in confined spaces, specifically in submarines. The paragraph, which was initialed by Plaintiff, provided:

2. Confined Spaces - The majority of the shipyard's workforce assists with the repair of submarines. Any FWS employee or waterfront support employee must be capable of performing work on submarines and in tight, enclosed or partially enclosed confined spaces. If I am unable to perform duties on submarines and in tight, enclosed or partially enclosed confined spaces, my employment with PHNSY&IMF may be terminated during my probationary period or my removal from Federal service proposed once I have passed my probationary period.

(Id. at p. 2).

         Plaintiff signed and initialed the Employment Agreement and on September 28, 2014, he began work as a painter helper. (Id. at p. 3; Final Agency Decision dated May 24, 2016, at p. 2, ECF No. 1-5).

         January 2015 Accident On The USS Asheville And Temporary Assignment To The Corrosion Control Center

         Plaintiff claims that on January 6, 2015, while he was working as a painter helper on a submarine project on the USS Asheville, he suffered an injury. (Navy Equal Employment Office Specialist Carla Kishimori's EEO Counselor's Report dated August 10, 2015, at p. 3, attached to Pla.'s Complaint, ECF No. 1-9, pp. 4-14). Plaintiff alleges that his head was sucked into an uncovered pipe, causing him to lose his helmet and headlamp. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that following the incident, on January 21, 2015, his primary supervisor, Mr. Jonathan Andres, assigned Plaintiff to report back to the USS Asheville project to recover grit in the ship's tank. (Id.) Plaintiff stated that he experienced vertigo, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting as a result. (Id.)

         Plaintiff claims that a few weeks later, on February 9, 2015, he was informed that he was to report to the Shipyard's Corrosion Control Center where he would be completing painting and blasting tasks off-ship. (Id.) Plaintiff believed that the assignment was to keep him off of the USS Asheville project after he had experienced vertigo and anxiety on January 21, 2015. (Id.) Plaintiff worked in the Corrosion Control Center for 106 days without incident. (Id.)

         May 2015 Reassignment Back To The USS Asheville

         On May 26, 2015, General Foreman Candido reassigned Plaintiff Martinez and three or four other employees back to the USS Asheville project. (Candido Decl. at ¶ 6, ECF No. 36-1).

         Two days later, on May 28, 2015, Plaintiff objected to his reassignment back to the USS Asheville project and he submitted a letter request to General Foreman Candido. (Letter from Plaintiff to Foreman Candido dated May 28, 2015, attached as Ex. 5 to Def.'s CSF, ECF No. 36-9). The Letter was titled as a “Request for Reasonable Accommodations.” (Id.) The Letter asked that Plaintiff be permanently reassigned to work off-ship, exclusively in the Corrosion Control Center. (Id.)

         Foreman Candido referred Plaintiff's request to the Navy Equal Employment Opportunity Office. (Declaration of Lacy Lynn, Supervisory Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist with the U.S. Navy, (“Lynn Decl.”) at ¶ 2, ECF No. 36-3).

         Plaintiff's May 27, 2015 Doctor's Note For Claustrophobia

         Also on May 28, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a doctor's note to Foreman Candido. (Candido Decl. at ¶ 6, ECF No. 36-1). The Note was dated May 27, 2015, and the entirety of the note stated, as follows:

I have seen the above mentioned patient today for anxiety. Patient should have Modified duty, Patient is suffering from Claustrophobia, should not work in tight spaces.

         (Note from David Samsami, M.D., dated May 27, 2015, attached as Ex. 4 to Def.'s CSF, ECF No. 36-8).

         After he received the medical note, General Foreman Candido gave it to the Process Manager for the Paint Shop, Christopher Byas. (Declaration of Christopher Byas at ¶ 4, attached to Def.'s CSF, ECF No. 36-4). Process Manager Byas then gave a copy of the doctor's note to LeVaughn Carter, the steward of the Painters' Union to which Plaintiff belonged. (Id. at ¶ 3). Process Manager Byas was later reprimanded by the Navy for giving the letter to the union steward. (Privacy Act Letter, attached to Pla.'s CSF as Ex. 3, ECF No. 42-3).

         Navy's Review of Plaintiff's Reasonable Accommodation Request

         Following Plaintiff's May 28, 2015 Reasonable Accommodation Request Letter, the Navy Equal Employment Opportunity Office engaged in meetings and interviews with Plaintiff and his co-workers and convened a Panel to review his request for accommodations. (Report of Marie E. Robichau, Investigator for the Navy Equal Employment Opportunity Office, at p. 3, attached as Ex. 1 to Def.'s CSF, ECF No. 36-5).

         Plaintiff claims that on June 4, 2015, his primary supervisor Herman Carson gave Plaintiff a Medical Referral form and directed him to the Naval Health Clinic Hawaii for a medical exam. (Final Agency Decision at p. 6, ECF No. 1-5). Plaintiff did not comply. (Id.)

         Plaintiff met several times with the Navy Equal Employment Opportunity staff and stated that he did not want to go through with the reasonable accommodations process but did not want to put the statement in writing. (Lynn Decl. at ¶ 5, ECF No. 36-3).

         The Reasonable Accommodations Panel determined that Plaintiff could not perform the essential functions of his painter helper position because he was unable to work in confined spaces. (Lynn Decl. at ¶ 4, ECF No. 36-3). The Panel's recommendation was to offer Plaintiff job reassignment. (Id.)

         July 2015 Plaintiff Declined Job Reassignment As A Reasonable Accommodation

         On July 2, 2015, Shop Superintendent Vince Yokoyama sent Plaintiff a letter entitled, “OPTION OF A REASSIGNMENT AS AN ACCOMMODATION.” (Letter from Vince Yokoyama to Plaintiff dated July 2, 2015, attached as Ex. 7 to Def.'s CSF, ECF No. 36-11).

         The July 2, 2015 letter explained to Plaintiff that he could not be accommodated in his current position of painter helper because the position required that work be performed in confined spaces on submarines, which was contrary to his doctor's note dated May 27, 2015. (Id.) The July 2, 2015 letter asked Plaintiff if he wished to be considered for reassignment to a different position where he could perform the essential functions and meet the job-related requirements of a new position. (Id.)

         On July 13, 2015, Plaintiff sent a letter rejecting the Navy's July 2, 2015 letter offering the possibility of job reassignment as an option for a reasonable accommodation. (Letter from Plaintiff to Shop Superintendent Yokoyama, dated July 13, 2015, attached as Ex. 8 to Def.'s CSF, ECF No. 36-12). Plaintiff stated in his July 13, 2015 letter that he did not want to be reassigned to ...


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